Firefighter: FD18 (PS2) (2003, 2004)
Review by Faididi and Co.
Hot stuff coming through
Dean McGregor is a hardworking member of Port Serena's Fire Department 18, and he's exactly the type of guy you want to help stop the massive fires suddenly breaking out across the city. As you may have guessed, these flames aren't caused by accident, because there's an evil arsonist running loose. The plot isn't anything extraordinary, and the bad guys who are responsible have predictable motives, but at least the taboo-like romantic subplot is awesome.
Gameplay: Above Average
Konami's Firefighter: FD18 is a third person action shooter, where the bad guys are cleverly disguised as flames. At first, it looks like a 3D version of Jaleco's Fire Fighting (Ignition Factor). Dean effectively races alone through 15 stages that are divided into smaller stretches of corridors, attempting to rescue trapped survivors within a time limit. Most fires he can put out with his hose, but sometimes he must find detours to get around very intense flames and other difficult obstacles. He'll even get to climb through vents, use keycards to open locked doors, break his way through weakened walls, and dodge deadly backdrafts like a fantastic Metal Gear hero.
What makes this game stand out, however, is its enemy design, and we're not referring to the usual fires or the killer robots found at the office complex and the factory scenes. We're talking about the bosses, who take the form of supernatural conflagrations that literally have minds of their own. They start off looking reasonably believable, such as a large ball of fire that can shoot heat rays across the floor. Then, they get weirder and weirder, such as the ventilation chute fire that releases flame tongues, the blazing vortices that attempt to suck in anyone nearby, and the burning cars at a parking area, where the heat causes the vehicles to erupt and literally propel themselves toward our hero. If this game truly excels at one thing, that's its insanely creative enemy design.
The controls feel a bit sluggish. Dean's various actions sometimes border on being unresponsive, and there is no way to adjust the very low aiming sensitivity.
Graphics: Above Average
The characters are rendered with plenty of detail, and the environments are textured well, despite tending toward the industrial side. The way the scenery can be immersed in near endless flames, smoke, and the splashing water from Dean's hose is where the visuals look best. The slowdown is minimal, and the loading times are brief, too.
Audio: Above Average
This game brings out the messy nature of firefighting through the speakers. Almost everywhere Dean goes, the deep, crackling roar of burning fires can be heard, growing louder as the flames near and rise in intensity. Streams of water splash into their targets with a noisy sizzle, and fuel drums clang out when they crash back down onto the metal walkways after their contents are forcefully ignited by the high temperatures. The voice acting doesn't sound too awful, and Dean groans out a lot whenever he gets smashed in the face by flaming debris or collapsing girders. The music leans on the cheesy side but nicely fills in the rest of the audio, giving Dean an almost superhero feel.
Overall: Above Average
Against all expectations, Firefighter: FD18 is an action shooter with some of the most surprising and playful enemy design ever seen. Although its controls can use more fine-tuning, its fantastically creative bosses are definitely worth seeing.